Wednesday, October 31, 2012

[Review?] The Lost Hero - Rick Riordan

Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy > Mythology
Published: 10/12/2010
Pages: 557, Hardcover
Rating: ★★★★★

Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.

Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god.

So this isn't really a review. More of a recommendation. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the novel. It is 557 pages of heck yeah! I honestly couldn't put it down. I would almost go so far as to say this novel was better than Riordan's Percy Jackson series. But then I feel like I'm betraying Percy. Unfortunately, I had the darnedest time remembering what actually happened in the previous series. I wish I would have read this immediately after The Last Olympian. 

I think the characters this time around have a bit more depth and the plot is pretty interesting too, with the gods having both Roman and Greek aspects. Being huge on mythology, I thought Riordan did a great job incorporating the two. I also burst out laughing quite a few times, which is sort of unusual as I rarely laugh out loud when I read. Riordan has a fun sense of humor.

Seriously can't wait to read the second novel Son of Neptune!

Have you read it?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

[Review] The Guest - Hwang Sok-Yong

Author: Hwang Sok-Yong
Genre: Fiction
Published: 2001
Pages: 234
Rating: ★★★★

The guest is smallpox, an infectious disease from the West that destroyed lives and families. The guest is the twin horrors that Christianity and Communism became when they reached fanatical heights in Korea. And the guest is Ryu Yosop, who visits his homeland for the first time in forty years to face the repercussions of his brother's actions during the Korean War.

I didn't think I was going to like this book just because it was for a class and my teachers have a habit of picking the most demented or boring books on the planet. However, I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I would't label it a favorite, but it was definitely worthwhile and interesting.

I love gritty books with lots of violence and death (and this has an abundance of both). However, this novel is based on real life, which just makes it depressing rather than cool. The novel recounts the Sin'chon massacre that took place between the 17th of October and the 7th of December in 1950. It just blows me away knowing what people will do to one another. Especially people you've known your entire life. It's a very sobering work of fiction. There are few, if any, parts that will make you smile. Unless you're, like, a sadist or something.

At times, the story has a creepy tone. Yosop is haunted by his older brother and the people his brother killed. You even start to wonder if these are real ghosts of if it's just Yosop going crazy. Tension is thick throughout the novel. Between scenes of the massacre, the reader is thrust into North Korea, where Yosop's every move is constantly watched.

For the most part, the book is written from Ryu Yosop's perspective in the third person. But I find it interesting that Hwang also employs multivocal narrative, which is the use of multiple first-person voices. He writes in the first person when he shows scenes of the past. It's very confusing at times, though, because you don't know who the speaker is. I think this is intentional though. It kind of blends the characters together. I really enjoyed the constant juxtaposition of the past and the present.

If you like gritty war novels, this is definitely the book for you. I would highly recommend it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

[Review] From Wonso Pond by Kang Kyong-ae

Author: Kang Kyong-ae 
Genre: Fiction 
Published: 1934
Pages: 360
Rating: ★★

From Wonso Pond explores life in Korea through the eyes of orphaned Sonbi; her destitute childhood neighbor, Ch'otchae; and a restless law student, Sinch'ol as their paths cross in an impoverished village and the port city of Inch'on. They all take on treacherous and underpaid work in the city, but soon find hope in underground activist networks. As they drift in and out of each other's lives, their stories of hardship, resistance, and romance reveal an embattled society on the cusp of great change.

What I liked: 

Unfortunately, there are few things I can say I like about the story. 

I guess I could say that I liked that the story was a work of critical realism and explores the social issues of living in Japan-ruled Korea. And, in particular, it shows how women are affected in such an environment. Kyong-ae was criticized for writing so politically. As a woman, she was expected to write women's fiction, which is supposed to be sentimental, romantic, and melodramatic. Hers has elements of all three, but there is an underlying political argument. However, at times, especially towards the end, I feel like her argument is a bit too blunt. And this is coming from someone who is terrible at interpreting stories and needs things told to her outright. I would have liked for her argument to be more subtle and buried beneath her prose. 

It's also interesting to note that the story was originally serialized in a newspaper.

What I didn't like: 

The story is a melodrama. From the very first page it starts out as one. It tells of how Wonso Pond is created by the tears of the villagers who grieve for their dead. From then on, it's just melodramatic blah. Too much emotion! Kind of felt like a soap opera. Because it's a melodrama, there's really no hero. Ch'otchae is probably the closest thing. Like most melodramas, it has a very tragic ending. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Top Ten Anime Characters - Males

So some of you might have noticed I'm a Japanese major. I fell in love with learning languages when I first took French in middle school and then German in high school. I decided to pursue Japanese because I wanted to learn an Asian language and it seemed the easiest to pronounce. I also love the culture, including anime, which I watch quite a bit (my way of studying for class). In the future, I plan on featuring an anime review once I've completed a show. I'm not sure if anyone would be interested in reading them, but I think they would be fun to write. 

Here, in no particular order, is a list of my top ten male anime characters. This was hard to make because there are a ton of characters that I adore. And, yes, I am a complete geek for doing this. d(≧▽≦)b

Kurosaki Ichigo (黒崎一護) from Bleach (ブリーチ)

I have a special loyalty to Bleach. It was the first Japanese anime I ever watched, and is really what got me hooked. 

Why he's awesome: First of all, he's a substitute shinigami (god of death) with a kick-ass sword. He's super determined. Even when he has, like, a billion swords sticking out of him, he won't back down. He goes out of his way to protect everyone. Even his enemies. He's noble, courageous, and super strong. And his Hollow powers are wicked cool! 

Uzumaki Naruto (うずまきナルト)from Naruto (ナルト)

Why he's awesome: He's a teenage shinobi with a nine-tailed fox inside of him. The fox gives him an incredible amount of power that he has to control lest it destroy him. Naruto isn't the smartest, but he's the bravest. Like Ichigo, he'll never give up. He's also a goofball, and he messes up a lot, but that just makes him more lovable. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Still Alive. For Now.

Wow, this is my first post since the 21st of September. I know I said if I stopped posting things, it was because I jumped into the Mississippi, threw myself under a bus, or shot myself. Unfortunately, I haven't done any of those things. But it is getting close to midterm...

Anyway, there's really not much of a point in this post except saying what I've been up to and how much I hate life. And why do I hate life, you ask? 

Because I haven't had the time to write!

I'm either studying Japanese (a.k.a watching anime) or reading pointless articles for my other classes. Seriously, I don't feel like I'm learning anything that's going to help me in my career choice. What does colonial India have to do with interpreting/translating Japanese, I ask you? However, I'm trying to incorporate the things I learn from my classes into my writing. What elements can I include into my stories? The history classes are usually the best for this. The class I am taking on ancient Rome is especially helpful for battle tactics, government, etc.

So instead of paying attention in class, I've been thinking about my story. I'm trying to add more and more layers, making everything connect in some way. I like to include random scenes into my novel because I find them amusing, but I've realized every scene has to have a specific purpose and has to carry the plot on otherwise the reader doesn't feel like the story is moving forward. Definitely have to work on that. 

I'm currently writing my second book and I have to say it's a billion times more fun than the first. The content is more interesting. It helps that half of it is urban fantasy, which is easier to write in my opinion. I've introduced a few new characters who I absolutely love. However, the draft is pretty sparse. At 44,000 words, I should be at the halfway point. But actually I am probably 2/3 the way done with the book. I have so much stuff I have to add in the second draft, which I cannot wait to write. Once I finish the second draft, I get to move on to writing the third book! I've heard that you should never write the second book unless you get the first one published. But, because mine is a trilogy that is so closely related (it's more like just one book broken up into three parts) I need to make sure everything fits. I'm not one of those authors like George Martin or J.K Rowling who can just think far ahead and know everything that's going to happen. I mean, I have the general gist of what I'm going to do, it's just all the details I want to make sure work. 

I suppose me being busy failing school has its perks. I'm finally getting some distance from the first story. I'm able to cut a lot of stuff that's unnecessary. It helps that I'm now revising for my boyfriend to read. He's a harsh critic, so I'm trying really hard to make the story my best.

How's everyone else's writing going by the way?

Next week I hope to get back on track with my posts. I haven't even been able to read anyone else's blogs and for that I am sorry. I haven't been able to read much of anything, really. Except stupid literary pieces.  

Sooo how's life?